I first found Muscat when I was nineteen and living in Montpellier, France for a month. I was there to study French, but I fell madly in love with the region, where I hope to retire one day. The Languedoc, located in the south-central part of France, has a rich history and culture, not to mention amazing food and their own regional language (Occitan). Montpellier was recently voted best city to live in France, and I believe it. It's almost surprising it hasn't received more foreign press - though I love Bordeaux and Paris, I find it the ideal city to spend a week or so. It isn't overcrowded, very pedestrian-friendly, plenty of food and shopping, and some cool attractions such as the Roman aqueducts and the Château d'Eau. I associated Muscat heavily with that trip, where I drank wine with almost every meal we ate out, wanting the "French experience." At the time, however, I hadn't developed much of a taste for red, and even white I was drinking more out of obligation than anything. Muscat was perfect for my new-to-alcohol tastebuds, with its smooth, sweet, honeyed flavor. This photo was taken on my second trip to Montpellier, when I was 21 and on springbreak with my housemate in Ireland, Katherine. I was showing her around, and we stopped to sit down for a moment at a cafe in the Place Jean-Jaurès. I asked the waiter if I could have ice cream, as it was on the menu. He told me it was far too early in the day for ice cream. "Et du vin?" "Bien sûr." "Pas trop tôt?" *disbelieving look* "Non..." Of course, it is never too early in the day for wine, so here I am drinking a glass of Muscat at eleven in the morning.
My taste for the sweet apperitif has since diminished, though I still enjoy it on occasion. One of my most memorable fun nights in the dorm involved my roommate Kat, a bottle of California Muscat (an amber-coloured variety as opposed to the golden colour you see in the Languedoc) purchased from a snooty British wine connoisseur in Ellicott City, a strawberry cheesecake, and the L-Word. This particular Muscat pictured here is an interesting cross between the amber and golden colours, made by RJ Buller & Son in Victoria, a "Premium Fine Muscat" that I enjoyed with cheesecake in honor of Kat. It was good, and more alcoholic than sweet - almost like a sherry. I was thinking today about how my tastes have changed so much, even in the past two or three years. First I started liking tomatoes at sixteen or seventeen after a very strong aversion to them in childhood, then it was brussels sprouts, then artichokes, and finally beer. I wonder if I'll ever get over the urge to wretch at green bean casserole, though, or my aversion to pickles and olives. Perhaps. The funny thing about tasting is, you can never really go back.